“You are where you are, right?”— Rafael reassuring Jane
Rafael was born Italy where Elena brought him over to America when he was younger where she and Emilio, a cold, critical and distant man, raised him as there own until she left when he was just 4 years old, and Emilio raised Rafael and Luisa.
Rafael is attempting to find his place in the world and, as he has recently come to understand better that he is longing for the security of a true family. His journey now will be one of finding out who he is and what he wants, once he knows. A step on the way has been discovering that Elena and Emilio are not his parents – he was born in Italy. Rafael now looks to start anew.
After talking with his sister, Luisa, to work up the nerve, Rafael is finally ready to accept that he has wanted to end his marriage to Petra for a year. When Petra, unbeknownst to Rafael, uses his last chance of having a baby he is understandably upset but also confused about the big life choice he had just made to divorce, and what his future will now hold when there is a child involved.
For this reason, Rafael decides to give his marriage another chance, but immediately ends it after discovering that Petra cheated on him with his college roommate, Zaz. He is surprised to find himself drawn to Jane Villanueva, after initially stating he though of her more as a sister and his feelings build to a point where he wants to have a relationship with Jane – and very quickly also a serious future together.
All the while Rafael works through the obstacles in his father's perception of Rafael's potential and gains more and more responsibility with The Marbella. The confluence of his father's murder, his mother's reappearance and Jane rejecting his impromptu proposal, overwhelm Rafael. He is lost, does not know what to focus on or how to move forward and decides to break up with Jane, whom he feels he can't give everything to.
After focusing on one thing – the future of The Marbella and Emilio Solano's legacy – Rafael finds some clarity and lays to rest the notion that Emilio was anything other than the distant, cold father that he was. Rafael decides to forego his father's business empire, save for The Marbella, and focus on what he wants – at this point, it is winning Jane back.
After the birth of Mateo, Rafael panics at learning of Mateo's abduction by Sin Rostro and does everything he can to get him back, including working with Michael Cordero. After Sin Rostro arranges a trade for Mateo with Michael, Rafael tells Michael he wants him to be Mateo's godfather – a decision which is later fraught by Rafael and Michael's ongoing competition for Jane's affections. Rafael returns to focusing on his newborn son and winning Jane's heart, while unbeknownst to him, his ex-wife Petra is complicating matters by self-impregnating with Rafael's 'sample.'
Suddenly having to deal with caring for the now mother-to-be of his unborn child, changes the dynamic between him and Jane, putting Petra in-between them and further complicating a possible reunion of Jane and Rafael. When Rafael learns that Jane not only has chosen Michael, but also declares that she has fallen out of love with Rafael, he is both heartbroken and worried for Mateo's safety given Michael's profession and Michael's previous conduct as a detective. The tension and Michael's fear of losing Jane leads to Michael having an aggressive reaction toward Rafael – which has Jane rejecting Michael in spite of her feelings for him.
Jane attempts to mend fences with Rafael, who is hurt by her behaviour and blinders when it comes to Michael, but he resorts to focusing on successful co-parenting of Mateo and this is their first step toward reconciliation. When Rafael starts dating Jill from Mateo's mommy group, he is surprised at Jane's jealousy, but she maintains that it's fine for her. Rafael, however, eventually realises that he can't continue seeing Jill when Jane is the one in his heart. He also attends his first Villanueva thanksgiving celebration, remarking that this is what he's always most wanted – to feel part of a real family.
He and Jane decide to go out on a real date, but it is cut short by the revelation that Rafael did turn Michael in. Jane is furious – but so is Rafael. The two attempt couples counselling to find a way to be in the same room, for Mateo's sake, and Jane says some horrible things to Rafael about how he uses money to do what he wants. Rafael breaks and tells her he turned Michael in because Michael let Nadine go; Nadine who now works for the woman who killed his father. Jane finally admits having had blinders on and they make peace with one another.
After seeing Jane walk down the aisle and marry someone else, Rafael has the chance to feel closure on his romance with her and finally get to move on. Luisa, however, has gone missing after being kidnapped by Rose and is gone for two months, leaving Rafael worried about his sister. Once she returns, he is relieved but alert regarding Luisa's emotional condition. Having let go of the romance of his and Jane's relationship, Rafael takes some new stances in his role as Mateo's father, resulting is their co-parenting becoming more balanced. Rafael starts a whirlwind casual fling with Jane's newfound maternal cousin, Cat, and generally is doing alright.
When Michael decodes Mutter's message in the bible, Rafael is led down the road to discover that his parents are not his real parents – and also that Emilio stole the family's valuable art collection from a convent in Italy. Wanting to make amends for the horrendous Solano errors, Rafael confides this in Michael and eventually decides to serve a prison sentence for hiding the art, to set a good example for Mateo, Ellie and Anna.
After serving time in prison, Rafael has a more zen outlook on life, specifically his work with the Marbella, which he has largely left to Petra. He and Jane have become incredibly close, Jane citing him as her best friend and both are working intensely on bettering Mateo's schooling, where he has trouble with outbursts. Rafael suggests that Mateo start karate to channel his energy, with positive results. When getting an aide for Mateo, who insists on getting to know Mateo without preconceptions, Jane and Rafael find answers to their worries about Mateo: their aide, Alex, assures them he has not been negatively affected by neither Michael's death nor Rafael's time away in jail. Alex tells Rafael that Rafael is Mateo's hero and Rafael is incredibly relieved and moved to tears, feeling he has realised his dream of being a good father to his children.
Rafael is also dating Abbey, but when she expresses a desire to move in together, Rafael has doubts and eventually decides to end the relationship altogether. Abbey, however, is less than thrilled and resorts to get revenge on Petra, whom she overheard advice Rafael to end the relationship if he wasn't truly in love with Abbey. Not long after their break-up, Rafael and Petra get closer and, though they are hesitant at the possible consequences, they sleep together. While Petra is still hurting over Chuck and wants him back, Rafael develops feelings for her. After debating whether to tell Petra, with Jane as well, he realises she knows and he asks her to get back together with him. She agrees to try again and leaves Chuck, but worries that Rafael still truly (and always) loves Jane and she ends their relationship. Rafael is hurt, but he and Jane share many moments, both with each other and Mateo, as Jane's feelings for Rafael have resurfaced. Although he doesn't know, Rafael doesn't seem to regard Jane only with the feelings of friendship, a possibility of more evident in his actions.
Rafael meets Jane for the first time, after hours at the Golden Harbour Yacht Club. She makes him a grilled cheese sandwich, they talk for hours about life, hopes and dreams, and he kisses her.
Rafael meets Petra Andel at a board meeting called by his father, Emilio, to announce that Petra's fiancé, Lachlan Moore, will become CEO of the company. Rafael sets his sights on Petra as revenge.
Rafael and Petra marry.
Petra and Rafael are pregnant and they are having a boy. On a vacation together at the future property of The Marbella, Petra is trying to knit a hat for the baby which is dubbed 'the frisbee' by Rafael as he deems it too large for a baby's head. Rafael considers buying the property, which he thinks has potential.
Petra later suffers a miscarriage.
Rafael gets cancer and while in treatment, has a talk with his sister, Luisa, who encourages him to find a way he could change is life to feel better. Rafael subsequently realises what his life really is and falls out of love with Petra.
Rafael's mother abandoned the family the day after Rafael's 4th birthday in 1988. Well, allegedly the family as she has recently been outed as the crime lord Mutter. Rafael did not see her again until they met up for the first time since, in 2015. Elena told Rafael that she took 10 million dollars from Emilio Solano in exchange for staying away from Rafael and Rafael refused to speak with her again. However, Petra recently convinced him to give it another chance, after which he was drugged and sedated by her. Michael and Rafael proceeded to work together to find out as much as possible about Mutter, which ended up finally having her arrested. She was murdered by Sin Rostro while in prison, leaving a clue to a bank account which led to the reveal that she adopted Rafael from Italy and was not his biological mother.
Rafael's father was murdered by Sin Rostro and, though initially focusing on furthering his father's business legacy, Rafael came to terms with his true feelings about Emilio Solano: he was not a good father, and he never put family first – something Rafael himself cares most about. Rafael therefore decides to forego the Marquis Hotel Group and only keep The Marbella.
While Emilio was alive, both in flashbacks and episodes, he is condescending and cold toward Rafael, treating him with little respect and refusing to see the potential and change in his son, who also suffered through cancer.
Throughout their childhood with an emotionally unavailable father and absent mothers, it appears from the Pilot onwards that Rafael and Luisa have formed a very close-knit bond, in lieu of any other emotional connection in their life. Luisa supported Rafael through his illness and Rafael supported Luisa's career as a doctor when she was unable to practice otherwise, due to a history of alcoholism.
Rafael is mainly focused on the hotel and proving himself in business in Season 1, whereas Luisa is emotionally adrift, seeking connection and stability in a very direct way. Rafael's priorities completely shift just before Mateo is born and he is now focused on being a good parent and may eventually focus more on family life. Luisa, however, is still searching for comfort and home, and so the two continue to be divided in their character, though united by shared experiences and blood.
- Main article: Jane and Rafael
Jane and Rafael are the co-parents of Mateo Solano Villanueva. They started a whirlwind romance in Season 1, weathering very serious challenges – such as the re-introduction of Rafael's mother, Elena Di Nola, when Jane had the amnio to make certain that the baby was okay, Petra's constant scheming, Sin Rostro's crimes in The Marbella, Luisa's relationship with Sin Rostro and Rafael's father's death – with strength and character.
When it got too overwhelming for Rafael to feel as alone and abandoned as he did, he broke up with Jane. In Season 2, Jane chose Michael over Rafael. Then chose Mateo over any romance, after an altercation between Michael and Rafael caused Mateo to be harmed. Jane and Rafael slowly reconnected after this and started anew – only to drift apart again on revelation of Rafael's lies and contribution to Michael's firing. Recently, Jane has found understanding for Rafael's actions, and together, through it all, they have managed to always put Mateo first.
- Main article: Petra and Rafael
Rafael meets Petra Andel at a board meeting called by his father, Emilio, to announce that Petra's fiancé, Lachlan Moore, will become CEO of the company. Petra leaves Lachlan for Rafael and they marry. Petra is pregnant with a boy, but has a miscarriage. In 2014, Rafael divorces Petra after finding out she cheated on him with his college roommate, Roman Zazo. In 2015, Petra acquires and inseminates herself with a surprising other sample of Rafael's, in the hopes that there might be a chance for the two to reconcile. After Rafael makes it clear that they have no future, they slowly develop a friendship and succesfully co-parent. In 2020, Rafael finds himself having feelings for Petra.
- Rafael has been married once: to Petra, from 2010-2014.
- Rafael's mother left him the day after his 4th birthday.
- Rafael's favourite song is Living On A Prayer by Bon Jovi.
- Rafael tells Jane that he was lost back when he met her and up until he got diagnosed with cancer.
- Petra and Rafael were going to have a baby in 2011, but lost him due to a miscarriage. It was a boy.
- Rafael has only been to church twice his whole life
- Rafael finds out that he's was not born in America, but in Italy
- Rafael finds out that Elena and Emilio are not his biological parents
- Rafael finds out that he's not a Solano
Notes and references
- ↑ Chapter Fifty-Five
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Pilot
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Chapter Two
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Chapter Four
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Chapter Seven
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Chapter Fourteen
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Chapter Eighteen
- ↑ Chapter Twenty-One
- ↑ Chapter Twenty-Two
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Chapter Twenty-Three
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Chapter Twenty-Five
- ↑ Chapter Twenty-Six
- ↑ Chapter Twenty-Seven
- ↑ Six months pass – Chapter Twenty-Eight
- ↑ Chapter Three
- ↑ Chapter Five
- ↑ Chapter Thirty-One
- ↑ Chapter Fifty-One
- ↑ Chapter Sixteen